AVL Manual Dobby

I recently acquired an AVL Professional Rug Loom.  I have the assembly manual for the loom but it has nothing about actually using the loom.  I know nothing about the manual dobby system.  I have written them and just keep getting the answer that there are manuals to download.  The list is about 40 manuals long.  I have looked thru all the ones that sound like they pertain but seen nothing about the dobby system.  Do any of you know if there is information somewhere on how to set up the pegs, what you have to do with the dobby if you have to unweave a row.  Helpful stuff.  A how to use this wonderful loom manual.  Thanks!


Posted on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 17:52

thanks Michael, I should have thought to look for an AVL group.  boy is this loom a monster.  1900 lbs!  Once you get it put together you better not want to move it!

Posted on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 17:54

Do you have weaving software?  If so, design your treadling sequence then change the tie up to a liftplan.  Each row will correspond to one bar of the dobby chain.



Posted on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 18:31

I used the dobby bars and pegs on my AVL loom for several years. It is a good system and easy to understand. Eventually I figured out easier ways to utilize the chains instead of just pegging each pick. I included this in my book, Exploring Multishaft Design. It is a self-published book and I still have 30 books in my house and a few more in our summer cabin. You can read about it on my website


I have also done some work on creating large-scale loom-controlled designs for weft-faced rugs. Haven't published that yet but it has been included in one of my workshops for about five years now. What is your favorite weave structure? How many shafts have you been using until now?  I assume that you are not a new weaver.

Bonnie Inouye

Posted on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 20:34

I am in the process of setting the loom up in my studio. The loom is new to me and I have never used a dobby set up.  I have no clue how to set it up or how it works.  this loom is air assisted because it is so big, so I know the dobby has air valves and such hooked to it.  I am looking for very basic "how to" with this dobby system.  I have woven for about 12 years.  I actually took a class from you, Bonnie, in Livonia Michigan a few years back. 

Posted on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 21:00

You could ask AVL if there is somebody near you with an AVL using the mechanical dobby. My book might be in the guild library there. I have taught in Ann Arbor and Holt (East Lansing area) and for the Michigan League, etc.

Do you use weaving software?

For a start, open a draft that you like. Probably it is written with a tie-up and treadling. Your software will convert it to a liftplan, simply by reading which shafts should go up for the first pick (which treadle is used and what is tied to that treadle) and making those shafts go up. Then it shows which shafts go up for the second pick, etc. It is just the same as reading a draft when you use a table loom and have to use levers for each shaft.  Once you have a liftplan, you can peg a bar for each pick.

The other way to think about it is to use the bars like treadles. Peg the tie-up. If you weave that chain directly, it gives the result of a straight draw in the treadling. I pull a little chain to reverse the direction of the bars, just like reversing your treadling. You can also treadle past a bar if you want, to get the pattern you like.


Posted on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 23:34

Ah. that makes sense to me.  Am I correct in thinking that the bars with the pegs advance on their own to the next pick every time you pull the beater forward?  Or is the advancement of the dobby mechanism all done manually?

Posted on Sun, 04/17/2011 - 01:48

My manual dobby loom was new in 1987 but I assume they still use the same mechanism. The left treadle moves a piece that is shaped like a wishbone or a rounded Y. This pushes the next bar in place. The right treadle lifts the appropriate shafts. If I want to weave twill blocks, for example, I can weave picks 1, 2, 3, and 4 by treadling left, right, throw the shuttle. Beat, usually while closing and opening sheds.  Left, right, throw the shuttle. Beat. Do this for 4 picks. If you want to repeat that block, pull the chain to reverse direction. Treadle: left, right, (you are back to pick 3) left, right (to pick 2), left, right. Pull the chain and start over. This way you can repeat picks 1, 2, 3, and 4 as many times as you wish while using just those 4 bars. When ready, move to the next 4 bars. If you have 16 shafts, you have 4 blocks of 4-shaft twill. The same principal lets you weave network drafted twills and very long or non-repeating treadlings by pegging 16 bars on a 16-shaft loom.

Once your loom is assembled and you have some bars pegged, you can see how it works as it is very direct. You have to push the left treadle all the way down, even though it is easy and might not feel like it is doing much. You can see the bars move into place. You have to push the right treadle down before you can weave- it lifts the shafts and makes the shed open.

If you have the auto advance mechanism, this will advance the warp every time you use the beater. I don't have auto advance on my looms as it isn't inexpensive and most of the time I don't need it.

What do your rugs look like?

Before I bought my AVL with dobby bars, I read everything I could find about multishaft looms with lots of treadles or with bars and pegs or with computer assist. There were not many companies making 16-shaft looms in 1987. Dobby bars have been around for almost 200 years- they were part of the industrial revolution. Some old mills in Europe and elsewhere still use them in one form or another.

Posted on Sun, 04/17/2011 - 11:55

thanks so much for all the info.  It makes sense and sounds pretty straightforward.  My loom has air assist as it is so large.  A friend owns a yarn mill and their son bought the loom to weave blankets for the mill with the yarn they make.  Sadly, he died at the age of 48 before ever using the loom.  They kept it for a bit, thinking they would set it up and use it, but not enough hours in the day.  So I acquired the loom.  I weave blankets, mostly using my handspun for weft.  Millspun or commercial warp.  I am to weave some things for them for their yarn shop in trade for the loom.  I can weave a king size blanket in one piece on this loom.  I'll use it for other things too.  But I have enough looms for other projects, that I'd like to keep this warped for blankets.

Posted on Mon, 04/18/2011 - 00:44

I think it will be a good loom for blankets. I have woven a lot of blankets and bedspreads on my 60" wide AVL, using double width for larger beds. But I have not woven double width in more than a decade now. It is more interesting to use all of my shafts for the designs.

AVL looms are designed for efficiency and production. They are very solid looms.

Posted on Mon, 04/18/2011 - 01:52

We got it mostly together.  Have to put the cloth beam on the front and the cloth rollers.  Hook up the compressor and try it out.  I think I  made the dobby out to be way harder than it is.  With your helpful explanation and running it manually, it is pretty easy to understand.  We'll see what happens when we get the air fired up.  Will start with something narrow for a test run.  I am so excited.  It is 11'2" wide and almost 7 foot deep. 

Posted on Tue, 04/19/2011 - 00:59

got all the roller beams on and hooked up the air compressor.   Have one leak to fix but put tape on it for the time being.  The dobby advances and the shafts go up and down as programmed, the warp brake works.  I think I am in business.  Took off the wool warp that had been wound on and all kinds of dead moths fell out.  Not sure where they had it stored, but at least they fell out and not flew out.  Now just have to decide on my first project.  thanks for all your help.